Microsoft Exchange 2016 is exciting as it comes with a host of cool features such as cloud deployments, improved reliability, and a new architecture that is much more conducive for today’s business environment.
If you haven’t done it already, it’s probably time to consider migrating your mail server from Exchange 2010 to 2016 because it is more convenient and lays the foundation for future progress.
So, what’s new in Exchange 2016 that makes it so exciting for system administrators world over?
Let’s briefly look at some of the key changes in 2016 that were not available in the 2010 version.
Exchange 2010 had separate components such as Mailbox, Hub Transport, Unified Messaging, and Client Access for performing separate roles in the server. In 2016, all of these components have been combined into a single component called Mailbox, and this component performs the combined role of other components.
Exchange Admin Center
Exchange Admin Center (EAC) has been greatly enhanced to help you connect from anywhere using a web browser. It acts as a single point of control for all operations and is optimized for on-premise, online, and hybrid Exchange deployments. Due to this enhanced EAC, Exchange Management Console (EMC) of 2010 has taken a back seat. Microsoft observed delayed updates in EMC, and this is why it decided to limit its scope in 2016.
Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW)
Exchange 2016 has a cloud-based application called Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW) that helps to connect with other Microsoft tools like Office 365 in real-time. Improved diagnostics and troubleshooting make it ideal for hybrid deployments.
MAPI over HTTP
MAPI over HTTP is the default protocol in Exchange 2016, as it is more reliable and stable than the RPC over HTTP protocol of Exchange 2010. Also, this protocol allows Outlook to pause a connection, change networks, and resume hibernation, things that were difficult to implement in Exchange 2010.
In 2010, you had to install certificate for every server through EMC, while in 2016, you can install certificates across multiple servers at the same time through EAC. You can also see the expiry details in EAC.
Now that you know why Exchange 2016 is better, let’s see how to migrate from version 2010 to 2016.
Update the existing environment
If you unsure of the version you’re using, open the Exchange Management Shell and run this command:
Get-ExchangeServer : Format-List Name, Edition, AdminDisplayVersion
This should bring up the current version you’re using. Make sure it says Exchange 2010.
The first step is to update the existing environment to make the 2010 version suitable for upgrading to 2016. To do that, install Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 and Exchange 2010 SP3 Update Rollup 11. These are the minimum supported patch level updates for 2010, and the installation process is fairly self-explanatory.
The next step is to consider updating the Directory Service Requirement and Outlook Client. For Exchange 2016, the minimum Directory Service Requirement is AD Functional Level 2008, and for Outlook Client, it is Exchange 2016 Support Outlook 2010 and above on Windows and Mac Outlook 2011 and above on Mac. You should update clients to this minimum supported version before implementing Exchange 2016.
Prepare the System for Exchange Server 2016
Do you have the system requirements needed to support Exchange 2016? Let’s double check the below requirements again, as Exchange Server 2016 supports only the following:
- Windows Server 2012 / 2012 R2
- Minimum memory requirement for Mailbox server role is 8GB plus an additional minimum requirement of 4GB for edge transport
- Paging file size should be set to physical RAM, and an additional 10MB to 32788MB, depending on the size of the RAM. If you’re using 32GB of RAM, then go for the maximum of 32788MB
- Disk space of at least 30GB on the drive on which you plan to install Exchange. Also, an additional 500MB is needed for every Unified Messaging (UM) language pack that you want to install. Additionally, you need 200MB of available disk space on the system drive, and a hard disk of a minimum of 500MB of free space for message queue database
- A screen resolution of 1024 X 768 pixels.
- Disk partitions that are formatted on the NTFS file system
- .NET framework and UCS API should be installed before installing Exchange 2016. You can download both from Microsoft website and install it in your system.
Make sure your system meets all these prerequisites before installing Exchange 2016.
Next, you have to prepare the schema update. This step is irreversible, so make sure you have a full backup of Active Directory before proceeding.
A good part about this migration is you don’t have to worry much about changing HTTPS names for OWA as both the versions support the same set of naming services and active sync directories.
Install Active Directory for Exchange 2016
Next, run the Exchange 2016 setup. Choose a specific directory to extract all the files of this setup. Once the extraction is complete, run the following commands, one after the other. Open the command prompt and go to the directory where you have extracted the files.
The first command is to prepare the schema, which is, setup.exe /PrepareSchema /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms
Now your schema is prepared, so move on to the next command, which is, setup.exe /PrepareAD /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms. Once that’s done, prepare your domain with the command setup.exe /PrepareDomain /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms. With this, we have completed the Active Directory installation for Exchange 2016.
Install Exchange 2016
Now that you have the environment set up, it’s time to do what you’ve come for, which is installing Exchange 2016. Fortunately, this is also the easiest step in the migration process as the configuration wizard takes care of most things for you!
Browse through the setup directory, and run the file called Setup.exe.
During the installation, you’ll be prompted to choose the server role selection. Choose “Mailbox role,” and the other options will automatically be deactivated because Mailbox and Edge Transport cannot coexist in the same machine.
Installation will complete within the next few minutes.
Once the installation is complete, click on the Finish button. This will load the Exchange Admin Center on the browser.
Exchange management console in 2010 is replaced with a web-based Exchange Admin Center in 2016. This is the place where you can have greater control over all operations.
After installing Exchange 2016 successfully, update the Service Connection Point for AutoDiscover. To do this, use the Set-ClientAccess command from Exchange Management Shell.
Go to the Exchange Management Shell, and type this command:
Set-ClientAccessService -Identity E2016 -AutoDiscoverServiceInternalURI https://autodiscover.yourURL.com/Autodiscover/Autodiscover.xml
Next, update the settings of Outlook Anywhere. To do this, go to EAC, and click on servers on the left hand side. This will open up the list of servers. Click the Edit icon and a pop-up will open. Choose the Outlook Anywhere option, and update the DNS lookup and IMAP4 settings with the name of your new server.
Once you’ve configured the settings, run IIS RESET. To do this, go to your command prompt and run the command iisreset. This will stop and restart IIS services.
The next step is to configure your Receive Connector to relay email applications. To configure this, go to the mail flow option in your EAC, click on a connector, and edit it.
Next up is your Mail Database installation. When you install 2016, a default database is created. You can rename this database and move it from C Drive to another drive. Open the EMC shell and run these commands to rename and move your database.
Get-MailboxDatabase -Server E2016 : Set-MailboxDatabase -Name DBExchange2016
Move-DatabasePath -Identity DB01 -EdbFilePath E:\Database\DB01\DBExchange2016.EDB. -LogFolderPath E:\Database\DBExchange2016_Log
Once that’s done, update the OWA directory. Exchange 2016 supports acting-as-a-proxy for 2010, so both the versions can coexist using the same URLs. Now, change the OWA and autodiscover URL to Exchange 2016, to ensure all URLs go through Exchange 2016. You can use the below script to do that.
$Server = “E2010”
$HTTPS_FQDN = your_URL
Get -OWAVirtualDirectory -Server $Server | Set -OWAVirtualDirectory -ExternalURL $null
Get -ECPVirtualDirectory -Server $Server | Set -ECPVirtualDirectory -ExternalURL $null
Get -OABVirtualDirectory -Server $Server | Set -OABVirtualDirectory -ExternalURL $null
Get -ActiveSyncVirtualDirectory -Server $Server | Set -ActiveSyncVirtualDirectory -ExternalURL $null
Get -WebServicesVirtualDirectory -Server $Server | Set -WebServicesVirtualDirectory -ExternalURL $null
Enable -OutlookAnywhere -Server $Server -ClientAuthenticationMethod Basic -SSLOffloading $False -ExternalHostName $HTTPS_FQDN
Lastly, update the DNS, so it points to autodiscover and OWA. To do that, open your Accu Directory Domain Controller Machine. Open the DNS Manager, and change the record to ensure that it points to the new server.
Whew! With this, you’re almost done with the migration.
Test your configuration
Finally, it’s time to test if your configurations work. It’s best to create a new user to login and test the account functionality. To create a new user, open EAC and click on Recipients. From here, add a new user and check if everything is working fine.
If all is good, migrate all users from the Exchange 2010 to the Exchange 2016 database.
And that’s a wrap!
In short, much has changed between Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2016, so it’s best you migrate to the latest version to make the most of the new functionalities. Migrating to 2016 is not so difficult when you follow the aforementioned steps.
Do the migration right away to enjoy the new functionalities of Exchange 2016, not to mention the reduced workload of mundane tasks. With all Exchange has to offer, you best prepare to upgrade to appreciate the benefits. (Remember, an upgrade is usually one-time only!)